Speaker urges graduates "be an adjective" during commencement

PLAINVIEW – Though students have long used nouns to describe their future career goals, Rob C. Thomas II urged new graduates of Wayland Baptist University to “be something different; be an adjective” during his commencement address on Saturday in Hutcherson Center.

As executive director for the Air Force Personnel Center in San Antonio, Thomas encouraged students to not just pursue the noun of their future – be it doctor, pastor, lawyer or teacher – but to pursue the higher calling.

“It doesn’t matter what noun you pick; what matters is to be an adjective. Don’t just be a doctor, be a compassionate doctor. Don’t just be a pastor, be a humble pastor,” he said. “Be accountable for your actions; be dependable, resourceful, independent, trustworthy and sincere.

“Be bold. Set your goals high, and go for it.”

Thomas urged students to follow three key principles for life: have courage in the face of adversity, pursue balance in life and keep an unwavering adherence to personal integrity and character. Based on his own experiences of working at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the subsequent anthrax scare and the sniper killings, Thomas said courage was foremost in his family’s survival of those difficult days and the experience made him stronger.

“You have to have balance between your personal life and your professional life,” he added. “It takes a conscientious effort to do this. And you must make time for your spiritual wellbeing.”

Thomas also said that personal integrity was of utmost importance, saying it “opens a vast number of doors because of its intangible value.”

Student speaker Jalissa King, a graduate from Portales, N.M., encouraged her classmates not to be intimidated and to dream elaborately. She also encouraged trust in God for the road ahead.

“Follow the plan that God has laid out for you,” she said. “It may seem like it is impossible, but God has equipped you with the tools to meet the challenges.”

King asked her classmates to keep learning and allow God to continue teaching them about the world and themselves.

“Our journey isn’t over. We don’t know what God has in store for us, but whatever it is, it will be awesome,” she said.

Approximately 100 students received diplomas during the ceremony, during which five students were recognized as the highest ranking seniors, each maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade point average throughout their careers. Honored were Maureen Coutinho of Moroni, Comoros Islands; Noel Keener of Elkhart, Kan.; Nick Pruitt of Plainview; Leigha Messer of Amarillo; and Martin Ortega of Midland.

The following students received degrees from Wayland during the ceremony, listed by degree and including major and hometown:

Master of Arts in Counseling: Marlene Marie Antu of Lubbock; Jeremy Joe Berry of Plainview; Patrick Dewayne Cornelius of Amarillo; Cari Lynn Ingram of Littlefield; Melissa J. Rogers-Fortenbury of Plainview; Kelly Ann Smith of Plainview; and Trisha Nicole Williams of Lubbock.

Master of Arts in Management: Jennifer Lane Beal of Plainview, organization management; and Jeremy Joe Berry of Plainview, psychology.

Master of Business Administration: Kendall Myles Webb of Amarillo, general business.

Master of Education: Elizabeth Ann Feagin of Lubbock, elementary education; Willie Ray Flemons of Plainview, secondary education; Tammie Carol Hewitt of Big Lake, educational administration; Joshua Rieff of Hale Center, secondary English; Brandi Denise Smith-DeLong of Lamesa, educational administration.

Bachelor of Arts: Malissa Nicole Barnes of Plainview, mass communications; Luciana M. Barror of Seminole, art, magna cum laude; Jeremy Clay Carpenter of Plainview, religious education; Stephanie Ann Ciszek of Phoenix, Ariz., music; Maureen Coutinho of Moroni, Comoros Islands, criminal justice, summa cum laude; Mary Tyshay Daniels of Plainview, criminal justice; Thomas Derrick of Dallas, religious education and religion; Devin John Marshall Fitch of Ashland, Ohio, religion and political science; Mark Clifford Franklin of Plainview, music and English, magna cum laude; Florentino Timothy Garcia of Plainview, mass communications; Predenia Goodwin-Grantham of Tulia, English; Jason Lee Graves of Plainview, religion and religious education; James Terrell Hawkins of Edinburg, history education; Abby Michelle Holmes of Hobbs, N.M., music; Joe Wesley Hoyle of Perryton, religion; Kelsie Jack Jackson of Spring, music and history; and Noel A. Keener of Elkhart, Kan., religion, summa cum laude.

Also receiving the BA are Kasey Kuriyama of Hale Center, religion and English; Joshua M. Lubenow of San Antonio, speech; Erin Luckie of Lubbock, psychology, summa cum laude; T. J. Marrow of Albuquerque, N.M., history; Nicholas Trou Pruitt of Plainview, history, summa cum laude; Heather P. Robison of Slaton, speech; Consuelo Salazar of Plainview, Spanish; David Loman Sanders of Plainview, history, magna cum laude; Marionito R. Schwabe of Coppell, religion; Tyson Snow of Raton, N.M., religion; Samantha Stephens of Monument, N.M., psychology; Paul Edward Sutton of Virginia Beach, Va., mass communication and political science; Resa Kay Uptergrove of Hale Center, language arts and social studies; Michael M. van Buskirk of Raton, N.M., religious education and English; and Deborah Jo Williams of Artesia, N.M., English/language arts.

Bachelor of Business Administration: Jennifer Lynn Baker of Canyon, business administration; G. Shea Byrns of Plainview, management/marketing; Dayna Michelle Cline of Cotton Center, management/marketing; Alicia Ann Hamman of Lubbock, business administration; Lisa Marie Jennings of Plainview, accounting and management information systems, summa cum laude; Matthew Alex McCabe of Plainview, business administration; Justus Mikelionis of Vilnius, Lithuania, cum laude; Akisha Sade Simmons of El Paso, management/marketing; Amy N. Wallace of Haskell, business education; and Sandra Kay Wyatt of Tulia, economics and finance, summa cum laude.

Bachelor of Christian Ministry: Jason Darby Laird of Amarillo.

Bachelor of Music: Benjamin R. Hutto of Plainview, instrumental music education; and Katherine L. Smith of Plainview, instrumental music education.

Bachelor of Science: Sarah Nicole Barbre of Shallowater, biology and physical education, cum laude; Michael Charles Bechtold of Plainview, history; Stephen Blake Burrow of Tulia, physical education; Philip J. Carlson of St. Marys, Kan., chemistry and mathematics, cum laude; Jerod Taylor Clopton of O’Donnell, mathematics; James D. Estes of Plainview, mathematics; Charlotte Ann Jackson of Plainview, psychology and criminal justice; Jennifer Ann Jones of Artesia, N.M., biology and chemistry, magna cum laude; Tiffany Renae Lambert of Hawley, physical science; David Allen Lara, Jr. of Lubbock, physical education; Abby Lauren Loerwald of Amarillo, mathematics; and Stephanie Ann Lopez of Plainview, psychology.

Also receiving the BS are Leigha Jean Messer of Amarillo, biology, summa cum laude; Elisabeth Joy Montoya of El Paso, biology; Elyse Renee Newland of Plainview, mathematics education, magna cum laude; Martin Ortega of Midland, biology, summa cum laude; Emily Gail Parker of Tulia, physical education, magna cum laude; Marcia Kay Peck of Westminster, Colo., biology; Jenna Alaine Steinle of Plainview, psychology; Leigh Antoinette Thomas of Plainview, mathematics education, magna cum laude; Lacy Marie Vercher of Hempstead, sociology and biology; Erin Mari Whedbee of Plainview, psychology and religious education.

Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies: Angie Aleman of Floydada, elementary education, magna cum laude; Kameron Jo Copass of Van Alstyne, elementary education; Christy M. Gonce of Plainview, elementary education; Staci Ilene Hutto of Plainview, elementary education, magna cum laude; Kris Ann Jennings of Perryton, middle school mathematics, magna cum laude; Jalissa Dawn King of Portales, N.M., middle school mathematics, magna cum laude; Kristy M. Lopez of Belton, elementary education; Sarah Elizabeth Quisenberry of Post, middle school science, summa cum laude; and Jillian Lee Riemersma of Phoenix, Ariz., elementary education, magna cum laude; and Brandie M. Shaffner of Wichita Falls, elementary education, summa cum laude.

Bachelor of Science in Occupational Education: Marissa Amador of Plainview, human services; Eric Ambriz of Plainview, human services; Melinda Sue Cabrera of Plainview, business administration; Stephanie Rene Clements of Plainview, business administration; Andria Raquel Ester Cuevas of Plainview, occupational education; Yanna Feng Elliott of Plainview, occupational education; Angela Nichole Oakes of Floydada, occupational education; Guadalupe Perez of Plainview, human services; Michal Polanowski of Konin, Poland, business administration; Virginia L. Rawls of Plainview, occupational education; Ana Rey of Hale Center, business administration; and Scott Allen Wheeler of Amarillo, business administration.